Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Cold Weather

After receiving a warning to wear my thermals if I went outdoors, I pulled up my abandoned SBC Yahoo page to see what the weather was like today. It wasn't so bad, I thought: Zero degrees. After half a winter here (or an autumn and a start of winter, as my girlfriend corrected me) I've grown used to the cold. Only Yahoo wasn't speaking to me in metric, it was giving me the temperature with an "F" beside it. It no longer computed. I hit the Celsius button just to see what that meant. Then I understood. Currently, it read, -18.

I clicked the extended forecast to see when relief would come, but apparently the relief was today. On Saturday, it's supposed to reach a high, repeat, a high, of -17 and a low of -23. (At this point isn't "high" the wrong word? Shouldn't there be a word for "less cold, but still freeze-your-teeth-off cold?") For you Farenheit people that means the high will be zero, the low -10.

And that's not the worst of it. Today, though it's currently "only" -18 Celsius, it "feels like" -26. That's an actual meterological number, filed away under "more current conditions," and so tell me, why say it's -18 if you're just going to later tell me it feels eight degrees colder? Isn't the temperature a reflection of the, well, temperature, which is based on, when it comes down to it, your response to the weather, a tactile sensation? And if it feels like -18, isn't it, in fact, if someone held a gun to your head, -18?

Secondly, how do they determine this number anyways? I mean, they've got all this fancy equipment to measure solar flares and thermal drifts, they've got massive computers that spit out extended forecasts and chart the pull of the moon, and then at the end of it all they say, "Yeah, but, you know, the number we gave you? It's all wrong. Feels way colder."

Do they lock the intern outdoors without his boots? "It's negative eighteen, Michael! But what does it feel like?!"

I'm off to put on my second pair of thermal underwear, one pair Norwegian, the other American, a sort of United Nations of undergarments, a UN Security Council of warmth, because I'm a Californian and I'm afraid that means everything feels another ten degrees colder to me.